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Israel Reacts Cautiously to Announcement by West Europeans

In a cautious initial reaction to the announcement that four Western European countries will participate in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) which will patrol the Sinai after Israel withdraws next April, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said today that the Cabinet would “discuss and decide on the complex

of problems linked to the participation” of Britain, France, Italy and Holland in the MFO.

The spokesman also added in response to questioning that “the statements made so far would seem to contradict the Camp David agreements.” This was understood to refer not only to a statement today by British Deputy Foreign Secretary Humphrey Atkins in the House of Commons in which he sought to draw a “complete distinction” between the Israel-Egypt segment of the Camp David agreement and “the rest of the Camp David process,” but also to the official statements by the four European countries and the 10-member European Economic Community (EEC).

Unofficially, Israeli sources seemed dismayed by the reference of the 10 EEC members to Palestinian self-determination in the context of the decision by the four countries to participate in the MFO. The Israeli sources saw this as gratuitous and as a potential trouble-spot for Israel in accepting the participation of the Europeans.

But Israeli sources stressed that the Foreign Ministry statement was “not intended to slam any doors.” Plainly, the government wants to give careful thought to the EEC statements before taking a final stand.

EEC diplomats had said earlier that the statement by the four would be tailored to meet with Israeli approval; the statement by the 10 would be aimed at the same end but could contain awkward references; and the statements by the individual governments to their parliaments were not Israel’s business and should not shape Israel’s response.

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